Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On being trans*, and feeling hated

NOTE 1: The text shared here are accounts of my own experiences. I DO NOT presume to speak for any trans* people other than myself.

Why I'm writing this:

About a week or two ago, I came across a story about an incident in which a person was thrown out of a trans*-friendly club in England. Many of the performers and patrons in the club didn't feel safe around this individual, so she was escorted from the premises. The person then claimed that she was thrown out of said bar for being a Lesbian, when in fact, this person was removed from this space because of numerous incidents of what's been considered hate speech by many. I won't mention this person's name (for fear of attack by this person and her colleagues), but I will include some of the person's (and others') quotes of hate speech, from a group of people that the trans* community has dubbed Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFs for short. A new(-ish) brand of acceptable hate has now appeared in the LGBTQI community.

Where I come from, and how I came to identify as Trans*:

As a child, I grew up watching many male-bodied people inflicting verbal, mental, and physical violence upon the female-bodied people in my life. I was not abused as a child: neglected, perhaps, but never abused outright. I vowed from a very young age not to be like the boys and men around me.

As I grew into my teenage years, I began to connect the larger patterns of societal issues to a great number of cis-males and their behavior. My way of thinking has never truly connected to the experience of being "male", even though I grew up male-bodied. I was also annoyed by the pressure of society not to be a "girl", a "wimp", a "pussy". Many boys and men in my life acted, and still act, towards themselves and women in ways contrary to my way of thinking. I came to all of these concepts on my own, with almost no one but myself to tell me what was acceptable. I created my own internal code of ethics, which then grew with me and the way I perceived myself. A few times, I bent or broke some of this code, having made some mistakes in my late teens and very early twenties. These were personal, embarrassing errors in judgment that I felt horrible for (and sometimes still do), regretted, and learned from.

For many years, I had felt that I would much rather be female than male. I've always felt more "in tune" with women's issues and rights, and also with a way of life that sees beauty, grace, and kindness as ideals, not things to be looked down upon. I've always communicated with, connected with, and understood, the women in my life much better than the men.

Eventually, moving to San Francisco finally granted me the opportunity and feeling of safety to pursue and explore, in greater detail, this large and under-explored side of myself. I've now been on hormones since January, and am currently identifying as femme. I feel that "femme" is an acceptable word as well as an acceptable persona for myself, for it descibes me well without the pitfall of actually co-opting anyone's language by calling myself female. I have the love and support of my lovers, friends, and of members of my family.

I'm not huge on activism, although I try to stand with the LGBTQI community whenever I possibly can. I just want to live my own life, free from any major oppression or violence, in the way that I see fit. I'm not a Men's Rights Activist, and I can't stand the MRAs. To me, consent is sexy, so in my heart and mind, the opposite (that the lack of consent is not sexy) is also true. I get physically turned off by the idea of non-consensual sex, so there is no way I would push a person to have sex who doesn't want to have sex with me. I'm not looking to abuse, threaten, demean, derail, diffuse, rape, assault, co-opt, intrude, or otherwise invade upon ANY women and/or their safe spaces. I just want to live my own life and go my own way.

This is why I take issue with TERFs. TERFs seem to be yet another group of people with hateful words. They don't know a thing about my life experiences, or about me as a person, yet seem to be on a systematic crusade to generalize, demonize, and stigmatize the term "trans* woman", and by extension, my freedom to exist as the person I choose to be.


TERFs call for safe spaces for women. They want these spaces free from those they consider to be men, which includes trans* women. I see the necessity of having a safe space. My personal stance on the issue is this: I do not want to be around, and will go out of my way to avoid, a group of any people that have great hostility and vitriol towards who I believe myself to be. I try not to put myself into a situation where people (female, male or otherwise) could conceivably commit physical and/or emotional violence against me. I also don't want to make my own personal space unsafe by "invading" what others consider their safe space.

I also agree with the notion that gender stereotypes are a social construct, and understand that TERFs do not hold to this way of life. I would love to live in a world the patriarchal structure didn't define male-oriented roles and behaviours as "strong" and female-oriented roles and behaviours as "weak", a world where a person's actions were not construed as defined by gender, but that's not the world I live in. And since I live in the actual world, and not a vacuum, I pay attention to, but don't hold to, the "strong / weak" structure. I strive to have the personal freedom to take on the roles and behaviours I choose for myself, and truly make them my own, in ways that suit my own life.

One of the many reasons I decline to specifically call myself a lesbian or a woman, is because I'm ethically unwilling to co-opt terms used by another group of people. But it seems that many TERFs want to dangerously lump all trans* women into the same category, regardless of each individual's beliefs, opinions, or ideals.

As an aside, don't forget that most TERFs tend to believe that anyone who has, or has had, a penis is automatically a rapist, because of course, all P-I-V sex (whether consensual or not, pleasurable for women or not) is construed as rape.

The following are actual quotes from TERFs, complete with some bully-associated language.

NOTE 2: TRIGGER WARNING. Hateful words, spoken by others. Read at your own risk:

Trans* women are men, and therefore exactly the same as MRAs:
"SCAMs (Surgically and Chemically Altered Males) are nothing more than MRAs (Men's Rights Activists) in dresses."
"Trans is the shit stain on the underpants of MRAs. You are the same people, bros."
"Transwomen are Men. What are you gonna do about it?"
(As an insult:) "Sorry for your dick."

Trans* women and any supporters are rapists or rape apologists (see above), and trans* women are forcing women to have sex with them:
"Telling lesbians that 'transwomen are women' promotes rape culture"
"This prick... demands lesbians fuck men. That makes him... wait for it... A RAPE SUPPORTER"
"PIV is in no way a natural human practice... a woman's vagina isn't meant to be penetrated at all, but only meant to expel a baby."

Trans* women are automatically anti-gay and anti-lesbian:
"Trans is homophobic."

Real women, and not trans* women (because they are men), are incapable of violence:
"They expect we'll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don't realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead."
"I'm one of those bad, shameful feminists who wish we could all just kill the fuckers (men)."

Trans* women want to destroy the identity of cis-women:
"The goal of 'trans' whacktivists is to ERASE 'woman' from reality"

And don't forget the TERF that is completely against the misogynistic practice of judging people based on their attractiveness - except, of course, when THEY judge trans* women based on their attractiveness:
"I can't think of anyone on the planet less 'fuckable' as a group than 'trans women'... Straight men don't want them. Lesbians don't want them... They're no more attractive to me than a lump of coal."

Some TERFs are just outright trolls:
"Dear Internet TransActivists - Most of you are giant losers who can barely function in reality. BEST OF LUCK!"

Now that I've done this, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I get trolled by the TERFs for speaking my mind. Let's see how long it takes.